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UN Guterres Biodiversity Chief Pasca Took Similar Junkets Now She Like Solheim Leaves But Gooter Remains

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive CJR PFT

UN GATE, Oct 22 – How  has Antonio Guterres impacted the UN? While Guterres is missing for the sixth day without explanation, he has had as Executive Secretary of the UN Biodiversity Convention Cristiana Paşca-Palmer. Inner City Press has repeatedly exposed her, like Guterres, as corrupt. Now Inner City Press hears that not Guterres, who should, but Pasca-Palmer is resigning, effective November 30, 2019. Consider this, exclusively published in August by then and still now banned Inner City Press: "Cristiana Pasca-Palmer is more corrupt and abusive than the man who was instrumental for her appointment  When Erik Solheim introduced Cristiana Pasca-Palmer as the new Executive Secretary of the CBD at the high-level segment of the 13th meeting of the Parties to the Convention (COP 13) in Cancun, Mexico, on  1 December 2016, he unwittingly admitted that her appointment was political, not merit based. He tied it to Guterres, before being fired for the same murky travel it appears Guterres himself engages in, even amid the UNRWA scandal.

Now this, also exclusive: the dysfunctional Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) in Montreal has reached new lows under its current boss, ASG Cristiana Pasca Palmer. Pasca Palmer who stands accused in many formal complaints submitted by the SCBD of racism against people of color, harassment, abuse of authority, and retaliation, has struck a deal with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to recruit on her behalf a director for Director of Partnership and Business Engagement, Nature Action Agenda. As indicated in the JO, the position will be recruited by the Forum but the Director will be seconded to and report to the Executive Director of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity with a dotted line connection to the Head of Forum’s Biodiversity work. The proposed recruitment which clearly violates a number of UN rules and regulations prompted a sharp and quick response from the CBD alliance in an open letter, in which 22 signatories of the global network of civil society organizations with a common interest in the CBD expressed their dismay of the recruitment and demanded that this recruitment process be immediately halted until fully put into consideration by all Parties to the CBD. They also demanded the Conference of the Parties to the Convention to clarify that it is a multilateral organization of States Parties, and thus organizations which represent transnational business like WEF cannot be involved in employing staff ¨representing the interest of the Executive Secretariat and the Parties of the CBD. Meanwhile staff in UNEP tell Inner City Press about a damaging OIOS audit of poor human resources management and lack of trust between management and staff in the SCBD. Further Inner City Press has learned that Pasca Palmer has found 11 days, including 4 days of travel by plane and train, for an expedition into the Nunavut country in the Northwest Canadian Territories which cost the SCBD a small fortune. The purpose of Pasca Palmer’s expedition provide a lecture to The Students on Ice 2019 Arctic Expedition... This is done despite the travel guidelines by UNEP and OIOS recommendations that official travel should be linked to expected results and should be followed by filing a mission report that includes the results achieved. It seems that Pasca Palmer is made like her former boss, Erik Solheim, who was assailed by OIOS and forced to resign following an OIOS review of his excessive travel and uncontrolled spending. We'll have more on this.  Since Guterres has had Inner City Press roughed up and banned and the vast majority of its written questions are not even acknowledged much less answered, the above is run as such. Inner City Press will add some of the above to the written questions it submits to Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric - and now his Global Communicator Melissa Fleming - and will report any response, as well as the changes that must come.

Three years into her term now, Ms. Pasca-Palmer proved her former benefactor's admission of the absence of merit in her appointment. When he recommended Ms. Pasca-Palmer for the job, Mr. Solheim himself was just few months old on his own post as the Executive Director of UNEP. He was forced out of his job on 22 November last year (in just a two-year time) after thorough investigation which confirmed his contempt to UN rules, abuse of authority and wastage of scarce budgetary resources on excessive travels.  Ms. Pasca-Palmer is a copycat of her former boss in her disregard to the UN rules and her addiction to travelling around the world. But she is worse in exercising her authority in abusive manner.  Ms. Pasca-Palmer lacks aptitude for learning how to adapt to a multicultural environment. After two years, she could not build a cohesive multi-disciplinary team. She shuns a number of staff with good experience and good ideas while she brings few others closer to her for their demonstrated loyalty to her. She has constantly been condescending on many others. She has not yet realized the distinction between an intergovernmental process and a national, or even worse, a privately-run undertaking. She cannot stand people who do not agree with her. Her strong desire to be surrounded by people who show absolute loyalty to her and do not question her actions, has put her in a constant conflict with a number of staff, and with UN rules. Her hawkish personality and impunity brought to endless need to respond to management evaluation review requests, talks with UN ombudsperson, and to UN ethics and dispute tribunal investigations. UNEP seemed to have chosen to stand by the side or to collaborate with her instead of taking appropriate measures to reign in some of the excesses such as constant modifications of job descriptions of some staff members who have trouble with Ms. Pasca-Palmer.  The following are some of the major failures and incidents that illustrate the abusive leadership styles of Ms. Pasca-Palmer that brought fear, anxiety, fragmentation, and low morale to most of the staff of the  secretariat of CBD.  1/ Ms. Pasca-Palmer lacks coherent vision for the biodiversity agenda and for the secretariat that supports it. Whatever ideas she brings to the table are borrowed from experts that she hired as consultants. Even then, the ideas shift constantly as they become tasted to be inapplicable to the CBD situation. She does not appreciate or trust the in-house knowledge and advice that she receives from staff, especially from those who have been with the Secretariat for some longer period of time.  2/ Ms. Pasca-Palmer's adversity to experienced members of staff and her heavy-handedness has led to a string of resignations. The first to leave was the Chief of Administration and Finance who chose to take early retirement after briefly working with her and assessing the difficult times to come. Her successor who has rich experience working with the UN in New York might have already felt the strange taste of working with Ms. Pasca-Palmer. In the last one year alone, more than four, all of them women, senior staff members and program officers left the Secretariat. Her own secretary left due to the harassment  and discrimination that she has felt. From the early days of her arrival, Ms. Pasca-Palmer was trying to transfer her secretary to another work unit in the Secretariat - It was a kind of hate on the first sight: One of the program officers to leave the Secretariat in the last one year, also felt the same. According to the story that she shared with her closest colleagues, renewal of her contract took unusually long, and when she sought explanation from Ms. Pasca-Palmer, she was told that, as an African, she should rather feel proud of herself to have worked in the UN, and not complain about the delay in the renewal of her contract.  Racism, much? Guterres and his spokespeople refuse to answer any Press questions, so corrupt are they. 3/ Ms. Pasca-Palmer takes things personal and her retaliation is immediate and ruthless. She seems to get gratification from humiliating and abusing any staff member who dares to question her actions and stand on her way. For example:  She abolished a division under the cover of restructuring just to punish the head of the division, D1. The D1, who has now lost her post, and eventually her job, had differences of views with regard to some of Ms. Pasca-Palmer's managerial actions that she took against the division and the staff. There was also another hidden motive by Ms. Pasca-Palmer when she abolished the division. Her decision to restructure part of the Secretariat came in September last year. At the same time, she was preparing a budget document to submit to COP 14 held in November last year in Egypt. The budget document included a request for a chief of staff post at a D1 level. She thought that the COP would approve her request as long as she used an existing D1 post. But the COP did not approve her request for a chief of staff. All other new positions she asked for, including a senior communication officer was rejected. Instead, the COP downgraded the D1 post vacated by the head of the defunct division. In the same vein, the senior legal officer who questioned some of Ms. Pasca-Palmer's judgement has now been effectively stripped of his role as the senior legal officer. She decided to abolish the legal unit and to change his reporting line, again, in the name of restructuring. A legal officer at P-3 level who was hired by Ms. Pasca-Palmer herself and who joined the Secretariat at the beginning of this year is now the de facto legal advisor of the Secretariat. He was supposed to report to the senior legal officer. However, as soon as he joined the Secretariat, he was instructed by Ms. Pasca-Palmer that he would report to her directly and he should not have any communication with the senior legal officer. His terms of reference is being revised and his post reclassified, accordingly. Like her former boss and to some extent similar to some of her predecessors, Ms. Pasca Palmer attaches highest priority to communication. The Secretariat has a well-qualified communication officer and a team. However, the officer did not seem to satisfy Ms. Pasca Palmer's wishes. He does not take orders without raising some pertinent questions. She did not like him for that. As a result, she striped him off his responsibility as the head of his team. She assigned her special advisor (who has no expertise on communication) as the head of the communication team and the communication officer is obliged to report to her. Ms. Pasca Palmer hired a communication consultant who is now doing (mostly remotely) much of the work that was traditionally been done by the communication officer and his team. This consultant who claims to be one of the members of the former Obama Administration communication team is now writing every speech that Ms. Pasca-Palmer delivers at different forums and, effectively, he is the de facto supervisor of the communication work of the Secretariat. Perhaps, owing to his experience working in a highly partisan political  environment, the speeches or other "communication materials that the communication consultant prepares lack relevance to biodiversity issues and miss political sensitivities. Last month, he made a presentation, on behalf of the Secretariat, on communication approaches and needs for the biodiversity framework beyond 2020, in a workshop held in Germany. Participants of the workshop were CBD parties and stakeholders from Western Europe and other developed countries. The participants were baffled when the presenter began his presentation by a quote from Winston Churchill's war time statement during Second World War. It was a pure demonstration of ignorance of UN values and arrogance for political sensitivities. One can also see his unfitness from his profanity filled Twitters trashing his political opponents which is antithesis to the values of the UN. Associating herself with such a person is another proof on the poor judgement of Ms. Pasca-Palmer. For Ms. Pasca-Palmer raising the biodiversity agenda means raising her personal and professional profile through flowery speeches and the use of social media to publicize all her high-level engagements. What she sees in the work of a communication officer is just colorful prose. Ms. Pasca-Palmer has been unhappy about the COP 14 budget decision that denied her all her requests for new positions, especially the one of chief of staff for herself. That is why, she is still trying to hire a chief of staff by all means. She is exploring all slant avenues despite the fact that the COP has rejected it and that Secretariat has about 80 regular staff, a size that does not justify the need for a chief of staff.  (iv)  4/ Like her former boss, Mr. Solheim, who allowed one of his senior managers to work (telecommute) from a location in a different continent for no justifiable and administratively defensible reason, Ms. Pasca-Palmer too designated one of her staff members as her special advisor and allowed her, for over a year now, to function from the United Nations office in New York for no clear organizational reason. The Secretariat pays for the frequent travel of the special advisor who shuttles between Montreal and New York. This is a cost on top of part of the salary that the Secretariat pays for one liaison officer placed in New York for the last several years and shared with the Secretariat of UNCCD.  5/ Like her former boss, Ms. Pasca-Palmer does not like to stay grounded in her Montreal office for more than few days and in rare cases, few weeks. She likes traveling. Her travel expenditure is high. She frequently modifies her itineraries at the last minute and as a consequence causing huge financial loss to the Secretariat. Mr. Pasca-Palmer knows also when would be a good time to go to certain places such as the one she had last summer to Southern African countries – the visit to the safaris and the diamond mining sitesil it was all well planned. The results of such travels range from nothing to negligible political visibility, while the costs are in tens of thousands of dollars, especially when accompanied by one or more people.  SCBD is currently in a difficult spot. It is expected to deliver so much during this biennium. Yet, the resignation of experienced staff members is continuing and the moral of the staff is at its lowest. Allowing the mismanagement to continue will be a huge disservice to the Parties of this important treaty which is at an important cross road, and to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda of the UN and to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Urgent rectification is needed!"

  Also consider this sent to Inner City Press from her Romania asking "asks the Minister of Environment, Cristiana Paşca-Palmer, to urgently respond to the emergency traffic purchases in favor of the Conservation Carpathia Foundation, following an investigation by "Nostra Solva" - the Federation of Owners of Forests and Pastures in Romania and published in the daily "Power".  Owners of forests with a surface of up to 30 hectares will benefit ... "As president of the Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, but also of a simple citizen concerned about the situation of Romania's forests, I make a public appeal to Cristian Pasca Palmer, the responsible minister, to respond as soon as possible to the very serious accused in the press "Survey Nostra Silva. German Promberger, Conservation Carpathia Linker - Ministry of Environment », appeared on October 19 in the" Power "daily," said deputy Carmen Moldovan. The PSD deputy states in a press release that the investigation revealed "very serious information and indications of possible criminal offenses and guilty complicity" between the leadership of the Ministry of Environment, represented by Cristiana Palmer and state secretaries Erika Stanciu and Viorel Lascu, and various foreign businesspeople with major interests in forests, grouped around the Conservation Carpathia Foundation. "In essence, journalists claim that a publicly-funded public institution, the Ministry of the Environment, has been confiscated by private interests, and very powerful businesspeople have succeeded in putting their people in key positions by the end of 2015. Through the public functions that these people are now only promoting the good of those who have put them in office and supporting the robbery of Romania's forests, "the deputy communiqué said. Thus, PSD deputy Carmen Moldovan asks the Minister of Environment to clarify this situation and the accusations brought to him. "If the Minister of the Environment does not want to provide the public explanations that are being made then, as chairman of the Committee on the Environment, I will use all the legal and parliamentary instruments available to them to learn the truth. The accusations against Cristiana Palmer and his collaborators from the Ministry of the Environment are too serious to be hidden under pressure, "said the chairman of the Environment Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. Also, the PSD deputy addresses to the Minister of Environment, in his statement to the press, some questions: "1. Have you influenced the projects supported by your colleagues, millionaires in euros, from the Conservation Carpathia Foundation? 2. Have you influenced traffic for the project to build the Fagaras National Park, a business entirely controlled by your friends at the Conservation Carpathia Foundation? 3. How have you been rewarded for the devotion shown? 4. Are you going to resign from being the Minister of the Environment or are you expecting your friends to defend you? 5. Why did you not react publicly to the accusations brought to you, since they seriously harm the institution you are leading? 6. Did you inform the Prime Minister of the charges against you? Is he willing to tolerate another minister in his government to protect his private interests?" Birds of a feather, in the name of biodiversity. But so far only one is leaving.

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